Mealtime Etiquette Helpful Tips – Dogster

My chihuahua, Jasmine, has developed a strange ritual during meals. She is not a morning eater and prefers her main meal in the late afternoon while my other dog, Bella, would love it if she could eat all day. Jasmine eats on an ottoman next to her favorite chair, as she generally feels more comfortable standing on a piece of furniture than eating on the floor.

This has nothing to do with her will to exert dominance over Bella; she just feels happier when she’s higher up. The world can be overwhelming when you are so small; when elevated, she feels safe and can look out the window from the comfort of her own seat and watch the world go by.

During meals, Jasmine waits to eat her food until Bella has finished eating her. I feed them both separately – Jasmine on her ottoman in the living room and Bella in the utility room just off the kitchen, as I firmly believe that no matter how well dogs in multi-dog households get along, they should have space during meals. Bella loves to eat alone, but Jasmine won’t touch her food until Bella has finished and walked over to the ottoman.

I should also mention that Jasmine is a resource guard. She has a tendency to guard locations, toys and food bowls, and I think this tendency plays a part in the ritual. Waiting for Bella to defect makes Jasmine’s food even more valuable and worth defending. On the other hand, she may not feel safe enough to eat her food until she can actually watch Bella as she eats. I tested this theory by putting Bella in a different room altogether, since my pantry leads to the family room, but Jasmine would still wait for her to come back and stand by the ottoman before touching her food.

Although food is a pleasurable social activity for humans, it can create tension between dogs.

Handy eating tips

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Dogs develop rituals around many things, including food, because rituals are comforting and predictable, especially in multi-dog households.

  1. All dogs must feel safe while eatingso I encourage my clients to either stay in the room while their dogs eat or feed them in separate locations.
  2. The same applies to feeling safe during chewing time† Schedule a time and place for dogs to chew on a toy or bully stick so that each dog can relax and enjoy some alone time. This helps minimize fights and makes any dog ​​feel safe doing an enriching activity.
  3. If your dog eating too fast, use a slow-feeding bowl or throw the bowl away and feed a few meals through interactive toys instead. You can also try hiding food in your house or backyard and send your dog out to hunt for her meal. (I don’t recommend this if you have a multi-dog household unless all dogs can search individually). Encouraging your dog to forage for food will give her valuable enrichment and she will absorb the food more slowly.
  4. NB when you feed your dog† While Jasmine prefers to eat once a day with a small evening snack, most dogs should be fed twice a day so they don’t get too hungry between meals. Eating on a consistent schedule also helps regulate toilet breaks and prevent accidents.
  5. And finally, let eating dogs eat† I never put my hand in a dog’s food bowl when they are eating or even near their eating area unless I am working with puppies and dogs to avoid resource guarding issues. Possession is nine-tenths of the law for most social animals, and just as you would hate it if your dog stuck its muzzle in your plate, the same goes for your dog if you put your hand in his.

Although food is a pleasurable social activity for humans, it can create tension between dogs. Take the time to understand your dog’s habits and create a plan to encourage healthy eating. Food helps build bonds between dogs and people, but it can also cause problems. While Jasmine trusts me completely, I understand that food makes her a little tense so I take steps to make sure she is comfortable at mealtimes by managing her environment and being mindful of my dogs’ different needs .

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